Online shopping can be considered a sub-category of e-commerce as it predominantly refers to business-to-consumer transactions such as online retail or online auctions. Online shopping also refers to online purchases from bricks-and-mortar retailers or from online retailing corporations such as Amazon.com or Rakuten.
Online shopping has become increasingly popular over the past decade. In 2012, U.S. e-commerce sales
amounted to 289 billion U.S. dollars, up from 256 billion U.S. dollars in 2011. More than one third of U.S. e-commerce revenue was generated by travel and flight booking websites in 2012
. The largest share of online revenue was generated by retail shopping websites
however, which earned 186.2 billion U.S. dollars in 2012. A 2012 e-commerce market forecast
projects online retail revenue in the United States reaching 361.9 billion U.S. dollars in 2016. Simultaneously, the number of U.S. digital shoppers
is expected to grow from 137 million in 2010 to 175 million in 2016, according to eMarketer estimates.
is the most popular and well-known example of online shopping. Founded in 1995, the Seattle-based site started out as an online bookstore but soon started expanding its product range towards other retail goods and consumer electronics. Additionally, Amazon has built a digital content business, which it supports with its own range of digital media consumption devices
, the Kindle tablets and e-readers. In 2012, Amazon.com generated more than 61.09 billion U.S. dollars in revenue
, which means its revenue has more than tripled since 2007. Usage statistics from online shopping websites in the United States
reaffirm Amazon’s leading position. In the fourth quarter of 2012, Amazon's websites averaged 115.2 million unique visitors per month, compared to 33.6 million visitors to Target’s website and 29.2 million visitors to Best Buy's online presence.
Online shopping is especially popular during the holiday season
as consumers wish to avoid crowded stores when shopping for Christmas gifts. The Monday after Thanksgiving has become the most important online shopping day in the United States. Taking the concept of Black Friday to the internet, e-retailers lure consumers with special Cyber Monday deals. In 2012, U.S. online shoppers spent 1.47 billion U.S. dollars on this day, making Cyber Monday 2012 the biggest online spending day of all time
In recent years, mobile shopping
has been on the rise, with customers increasingly using their mobile devices for various online shopping activities. In 2012, mobile commerce revenue
in the United States amounted to approximately 10 billion U.S. dollars. Currently, more than 37.6 million people in the United States are mobile buyers
, using their tablets, smartphones and other connected devices to shop online.
Photo: istockphoto.com / aleksl